What makes a good brand?

I'm writing this post from Munich airport due to a delay. This left me with a bit of time to wander around and see how brands are presenting themselves to the world.

There are countless brands that we come into contact with on a daily basis. All competing for our attention. Some of them are well crafted and highly managed entities with teams working on them daily, others are created and thrown out into the wild and left to chance. It is up to consumers, customers or users to choose which one is right for them. So what is a "good" brand?

There are a number of things that go into creating a brand. A customers first contact will usually be the visual identity. How the brand has been designed to look, but the process starts much earlier than this. Any good brand will have a driving force behind the identity. The big idea that sums up the brand, Its mission statement or brand ethos.

It is this idea that is crucial for a good brand. It forms a kernel to build around. With a clear purpose set out in the brand ethos you can start to apply it to the real world. An outdoor clothing company with technical products will need to look and act differently to a fashion focused high street retailer. They have different audiences with different requirements and aspirations.

As an example, the brand ethos for the outdoor clothing brand would need to be informative, as its customers are looking for specific product requirements. How waterproof is this jacket? What temperature will these boots withstand? In contrast a fashion retailer is primarily looking to inspire it's customers. We have the latest trends! This is the look everyone wants and you can get it here!

Once a brand understands it's purpose and who it is targeting it needs to apply its brand ethos. This application forms the brand image. This is the tone of voice that is used on written communication. The visual identity applied to packaging, a website or store design. The way it interacts with its audience in real time such as a social media campaign or how it responds to customers on twitter.

So how does this apply to a real brand?

Regardless of the size of the brand, a good idea should always back up the brand ethos. This could be an aspirational statement such as "Just Do It" which drives the nike brand to ensure every campaign or touch point shouts out with a passion. Sometimes a business is a simple concept with no higher meaning behind it, for example a cleaning business. However a brand ethos can still be developed by understanding the service they provide and who to. 

Be responsible to your audience, If your ethos is that you provide a professional service, make sure thats what the customer gets. Your visual identity would reflect this, by using a clean and modern design for example. You may have a brochure that you send out to prospective customers. Ensure that the way it is written supports your professional claim by using the correct language. If you cant do it yourself invest in a copywriter. 

Much like when farmers branded their cattle, a modern brand should make a lasting impression. By consistently applying your brand ethos to every connection you make with your audience you are building an idea of what you stand for in your customers mind. With the right brand ethos and application you will gain your customers trust and loyalty. This applies to multi national corporations right through to local businesses and individuals.